Kamal Suleiman Salibi (2 May 1929 – 1 September 2011) was a Lebanese historian, professor of history at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the founding Director (later Honorary President) of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Amman, Jordan. He was a lifetime bachelor, who devoted his life to books.
Born to a Protestant family in Beirut, Salibi's family came from the Lebanese village of Bhamdoun in French Mandatory Lebanon. After studying at French missionary schools in Bhamdoun and Broummana, he completed his secondary education at the Prep School in Beirut (now International College), and his BA in History and Political Science from AUB, before moving to the School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS (University of London) where he earned his PhD in history in 1953 under the supervision of historian Bernard Lewis. His dissertation was subsequently published under the title Maronite Historians of Mediaeval Lebanon.
After his graduation from SOAS, Salibi joined AUB as bibliographer of the Arab Studies Program. He then became professor in the Department of History and Archaeology where he joined other prominent and already established historians such as Nicholas Ziadeh and Zein Zein. In 1965, he published The Modern History of Lebanon, which was subsequently translated into Arabic, Russian, and French.
In 1982 Salibi finalised his book, The Bible Came from Arabia, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It was translated into German at the same time as the original English version was being published in London. Salibi wrote subsequent works on biblical issues using the same etymological and geographic methodology. Some of his books are today considered classics, notably A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (1988) and The Modern History of Jordan (1993).
In 1994, Salibi helped found the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Amman, Jordan, and became its director from 1997 until 2004, following his retirement from AUB. He was associated as a consultant with the Druze Heritage Foundation. He retired from the Department of History and Archeology at the American University of Beirut in 1998, and became professor emeritus. He moved to Amman in the early 1990s and became director of the Institute for Interfaith Studies there from 1994 to 2003. He believed Lebanon's Christian community had an important role to play in building a Lebanon distinct from its Islamic ambiance, but did not share the fanaticism about Lebanon's Christian nature shown by many of his Maronite colleagues. He dismantled the foundational myths which many of Lebanon's communities were attached to, and replaced them with a complex portrait of the nation as an intricate mosaic of disparate but interconnected communities, over which no one group exerted dominance. He was strongly opposed to sectarian politics, believing that it had been the ruin of his country, and was one of the first Lebanese to remove his religious denomination (math-hab) from the Lebanese census records. He pinned a copy of his new ID, which has 'I' for his math-hab outside his apartment in Ras Beirut.
A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered, By (author), University of California Press, 1990, ISBN-13, 9780520071964, Book
The Modern History of Lebanon, By (author), Caravan Books, Inc, 1990, ISBN-13, 9780882065090, Book
Crossroads to Civil War: Lebanon 1958-1976, By (author), Caravan Books, Inc., 1976, ISBN-13, 9780882060101, Book
The Modern History of Jordan, By (author), I. B. Tauris, 1998, ISBN-13, 9781860643316, Book
The Historicity of Biblical Israel: Studies in 1 & 2 Samuel, By (author), Academic Resources Corp, 1998, ISBN-13, 9780882062129, Book